There are always gaps between idea and implementation; between data and the real-world. And when it comes to the Dash Cycles TT.9, we see one of the best ideas in saddle design becoming beholden to the problems that plague bottle cages when asked to do more than they were designed for.
The idea behind the TT.9 is simple, elegant and, from a wind tunnel perspective, optimal. Take a saddle, extend the rear to be able to mount a bottle cage in a nearly-horizontal configuration, pointing to the rear. Every test of bottle position has come to the same conclusion: A single bottle in the rear, tucked parallel to the ground behind the rider is the fastest rear hydration setup, period. Dash has integrated this concept into their saddle and the result is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. It presents a pair of bottle bosses just aft of the rails that let a rider mount any cage they desire under the saddle’s rear extension… in theory. The reality, however, is somewhat different.
We tried a number of cage and bottle combinations on the TT.9 for our long rides and were incredibly disappointed with the results. Every cage dropped bottles; sometimes two or three times in a single ride. We initially went with a XLABs Gorilla cage and then following our First Ride article, a reader suggested an adjustable Elite Pria Pave’. Unfortunately we found that to keep the Pave’ from ejecting we had to set the cage so tight that it became incredibly difficult to remove the bottle. The only combination we found that did not eject was the XLABs Gorilla XT cage coupled with a Polar Big Chill. Camelbak, Pure, and other generic bottles all became James Bond-esque weapons against fellow triathletes who were less than enthusiastic about the three-bike-length draft rule. Now this could be considered a positive anti-draft mechanism, we suppose, if it didn’t also mean that we had just dropped half of our hydration on the bike course.
It is certainly possible that some, or all, of this problem could be ameliorated with the strategic application of friction tape to either the bottle or the cage (something that Dash recommends), and may be something we look at in the future just to satisfy our curiosity. The point remains that one has to consider very carefully what combination of bottle and cage to put on the Dash TT.9.
In the end, we settled on a Polar bottle with a Camelbak top riding in a Gorilla XT, and we haven’t had a bottle launch since. What we have had is a saddle that is incredibly comfortable, ludicrously light, and puts our hydration for short-course racing in the optimal position relative to the wind. The only recommendation we have for prospective purchasers is opt for the four layer padding option; on longer rides out past the half century mark, your sit bones will be very glad you did.